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chairman, Learning and Performance Institute @DonaldHTaylor

Donald H Taylor i

n my 20s I lived in Istanbul. It was a happy time. I taught English and supplemented

my income by writing. I penned a humorous (I thought) column for the English-language newspaper, printed my own guide to the city, and wrote books in and about English for an enterprising gentleman called Osman Zeki Bey. He was very successful in his own

niche field of publishing for Turkish students of English. He commissioned me to write several books on business English for adults, and adaptations of the classics for children. And it was from him that I learned a vital lesson about business, and about learning. One morning I visited him in his

office. I was concerned about my adap- tation of Oliver Twist as only an earnest young man in his mid-20s can be.

Don reflects on his early life as a writer in Istanbul and reminds us of the importance of marketing our resources

had created a successful publishing business by attending closely to every detail from commissioning to produc- tion to distribution. In those pre-web days of the late 80s, his vast network of salesmen and women, their marketing literature and their promotional work, were a rare contact with a wider world for the country’s huge rural population. When he said “It all hangs on the

marketing,” he didn’t mean nothing else mattered. He meant that every action in the production of a book was part of chain, and without a compelling final step – the conversation in a village in the middle of Anatolia, hundreds of miles from Istanbul, which resulted in the book going into someone’s hand – all that work was wasted. In a city that straddles conti-

nents, with its crowded bazaars, where ships dock from the world over, his point was well made. It all hangs on the marketing. Replace ‘book’ with the

We need to make a compelling case for our resource, to fit it to people’s needs and to ensure they know it will help them

“Osman Zeki Bey,” I announced

over sweet black tea, “I need more time. I’m concerned about the character of Nancy. In the original, you see …” I trailed off. He was nodding, unfailingly polite as always, but I knew something was on his mind. When he eventually spoke, he used the mixture of English, pidgin German and Turkish that had become our surprisingly effective way of communicating. “Donald Bey,” he replied, “I will

take care of everything. Es alles hängt von der vermarktung.” He repeated this in English for emphasis: “It all hangs on the marketing.” And, of course, he was right. He

name of any learning resource and you get the point. It is easy to be consumed with creating the best possible job aid, or course or presentation. But if nobody sees it and wants to use it, all that effort, from creation to production to delivery, all the way down the chain, has been wasted. To prevent that, we need to make a compelling case for our resource, to fit it to people’s needs and to ensure they know it will help them. We need to market it. After nearly 30 years, Osman Zeki Bey’s words remain as true as ever: Es alles hängt von der vermarktung.

Donald H Taylor is a 25-year veteran of L&D. Visit his website at

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